Working the Off Season

As triathletes, we all the know the challenges that the off season can bring, or in many cases, the lack of an offseason.    Although some are already into the training for spring races, there are many of us still in the offseason, trying to stay calm and pull back.

Dan Szajta, owner and coach of Grn Mchn Multisports, as well as one of our club sponsors, and Rob Cornish , a coach with Grn Machine put together a great article for us on the benefits of the offseason.  Take a few minutes to read.

Hibernation_ A Small Price to Pay for a Giant Leap Forward



Kelly Voigt

Kelly VoigtI became an “unofficial” member of the club in 2015 via my relentless stalking of the Club’s FB page. Finding endless inspiration and motivation from member’s posts of their training experiences, successful races, and even the posts on when things didn’t go as planned.  I just kept thinking “How can I become like them?”

I fearfully answered that question in 2016 and officially joined with the help of 2 persistent and encouraging board members (Hackford and Knerr) that wouldn’t take any of my excuses I gave them including the one that I had children to raise that I haven’t even met yet so I have no time to join this club! They saw right through that….

I would have never imagined all the great changes that come with hitting that “Join the Club” button. From shaking in fear waiting to jump in the pool at ECC for my first sprint triathlon to tackling the Lake Placid 70.3 a year and a half later and now looking forward to my first Ironman in 2019. Through the inspiration, motivation, advice and guidance of the members of this club, I have gained a level of confidence and physical abilities I never thought possible.

By joining this club, I have done what so many people strive to do in life. I have surrounded myself with people who add value to my life and who challenge me to be greater then I was yesterday. I have officially found my Tribe. 

I appreciate and am honored to have been nominated to join the legacies of the BTC board and if selected would be delighted in being part of the upcoming team that ensures this club and its members continue to achieve all their dreams and goals on and off the course….

Now go get that training done!!

Lynzee Ralph

lyndzee.jpegI didn’t know much about triathlon when my girlfriend from college mentioned to me she was going to train for Ironman Ohio 70.3.  In fact, I only knew it was swim/bike/run!  But immediately I thought, if she can do it, count me in!  I then convinced my best friend Jerry he should get in on this adventure!  That was it, we registered in October 2015 for Ohio 70.3!  Neither of us owned proper bikes for this newest adventure, so we had some shopping to do. I became an official member in late 2015, mostly just lurked around the club Facebook page.  Occasionally conversing with members about training, races and equipment needed.  I knew then, this was where I belonged.  These were the highly motivated, encouraging, supportive and adventurous kind of people I wanted to be around and aspired to be like.  Everyone always provides kind words of support and encouragement, making those new to the sport and club feel incredibly welcome!  I’d like to extend an enormous thank you for the consideration and nomination for an opportunity to join the BTC board.  This club has become a wonderful extended family to me.  I look forward to many more crazy training adventures and amazing races with you all!  


2019/2020 BTC Elections

It’s that time of year again when we begin consideration and voting for the open board member slots of the Buffalo Triathlon Club.  This year we had 5 open Board spots and 5 nominations, so this will an uncontested election.  Bios are published here on the blog.  Please take a moment to see who your newly elected Board Members are!   New and re-elected board members will be installed at our club banquet in January.

How Many People Are on the Board and How Many Slots are Available?

The BTC board consists of 11 members, and each term is 2 years, with half of the terms expiring each year.  The following 5 board members have 1 year remaining on their terms, and will continue to serve on the board for 2019:

The terms of the following 5 board members are expiring, and they will need to run for re-election if they want to continue to serve on the board for 2019-2020:

  • Mark Sommers(current president)
  • Joe Pautler
  • Mark Knerr
  • George Hackford
  • Alisha Gannon

Who has currently been nominated or chosen to Run for a 2019/2020 Board Seat:


Click on each candidate name to see their bio and information:

Mark Sommers

Renee Sossong-Brady

Alisha Gannon

Lynzee Ralph

Kelly Voigt

Helga Ivanova

4 years ago I was introduced to the BTC by a co-worker of mine Mark Sommers. I had a strong believe I will be an Ironman one day…at that time I could not swim to the other end of the pool, I never owned a bike (my dad had a severe bike injury and made sure non of us kids ever owned a bike or learn to bike). The only thing I knew was to run some middle distances, despite couple broken bones, ACL replacement and meniscus tear. Little did I know that many of the BTC members I met while working out and at some races and events will become my closest friends and family.

I definitely have come long way, completed my first 1/2 distance IM aqua at Barrellman in September… unfortunately I have been dealing with injuries last 3 years. So I raced if I could or if I could not I volunteered or was a sherpa… I volunteered at Score-This races, the Buffalo Marathon BTC water stops, IMLP, and the lastest Light in the Darkness…it’s a very humbling experience to be part of the journeys and unbelievable achievements of others…high class athletes and unbroken spirits despite horrible circumstances is what the club members are made of.

I have been able to improve above and beyond because of the friendships, support, resources, sponsors, and all organized events the club has offered. I love and am a proud member of the BTC club,  not to mention BTC gear has one of the best designs…It will be an honor for me to be able to serve as a board member.


Helga Ivanova

Brad Hilimon

My name is Brad Hilimon, that “tall guy” you’ve probably seen at numerous BTC events the last four years. I was nominated to run the for BTC board. Five years ago I never would have imagined that someone would want me to help run a triathlon club but I will throw my name into the election and see what happens. Like many people I didn’t get into this until I was in my 30s but over the last four years I’ve come to like the sport more than I ever expected to.

My first race was a Tri in the Buff in 2014 where I had no idea what I was doing. The crazy waves that day didn’t make for a great first experience but I stuck with it. Soon after that race I joined the BTC and since then I’ve completed 9 more triathlons including IM Lake Placid 70.3 in September, IM Syracuse 70.3 in 2016 and various olympic and sprint races locally and across the state. In that time I’ve also completed 13 running races ranging from 5-25K on both road and trails.

I’m confident I would never have gotten this far without the opportunities the BTC has offered over the years, especially the open water swims and swim coaching opportunities. The BTC only exists because of the continued volunteer support from its members. There’s something to be said when you can go to races across the state (and in other states!) and people yell out “BTC!” along the course.

I’ll never win any races and I’m not sure I’ll ever do a “full” anything but if I can help get more people involved in the sport I’ll consider it a win. I’m looking forward to cheering people on in Lake Placid again next summer and possibly being a member of the BTC board.

– Brad Hilimon

Denise Perry Salmons

I have been a member of BTC for 5 years. When I joined BTC I was brand new to this sport. I had no idea
what I was getting into. This group welcomed me and my life hasn’t been the same since.

Over the yearsI completed my first Sprint, Ironman Wilmington in 2016 and most recently IMLP in July. Thanks to the support of this club and it’s members, who are now like family, the road to Ironman has been paved with more support than I ever imagined. Being on the Board will give me an opportunity to give back to the club and it’s members who have been there for me! Not to mention, I bring along killer cupcakes and a great club photographer!


Denise Perry Salmons

Renee Sossong

ReneeDear Fellow BTC Family Members,

I would like to take a moment to thank whoever it was that nominated me for a seat on the BTC Board.  I was humbled to receive the email that informed me.  It would be an honor to give back to the club/family that has  done so much for me over the past few years.  I was a late bloomer as far as triathlon or any kind of physical activity.  I started running just five years ago and literally stumbled into triathlon as a way to keep training through a running injury.  I have not only become addicted to the sport but also the people and the atmosphere surrounding triathlon.  I cannot imagine my life without it.  My teenage daughter did her first triathlon this summer and I am seeing her quickly be drawn into the family as well.  I feel blessed by the experiences and growth that have occurred in my life by being a part of the BTC family.  At this time, I would like the opportunity to give back by volunteering as a board member.  If selected, my energy and enthusiasm would allow me to put my unique talents to use serving the BTC family in whatever capacity needed.

Best Regards, Renee Sossong



BTC’ERS – this year for our Banquet, we are donating to the Buffalo Animal Shelter, a place very special to me & Mishka (this picture was Mishka at the Shelter on the day she was going home with me) … For every item/cash donation ($1.00 = 1 ticket) you can get extra tickets for some AWESOME prizes from our AMAZING SPONSORS!!! There will also be a 50/50 raffle …

BTC have always been generous and I am so excited to be giving back to the Shelter.

Below are a list of wish-list items they are asking for and ALWAYS in need for. I will have a bin to fill (one of the items requested) with donations.

If not going to the Banquet and still want to donate – Mishka and I will come out to collect!

Thank You BTC – you are an amazing group

  • Pate style canned dog food any brand for filling Kongs
  • New or used strong, sturdy dog leashes
  • Bleach
  • HE laundry soap
  • New or gently used Kong dog toys, not the very small size
  • Any kind of cat toys
  • New or gently used/clean cat beds
  • New or gently used/clean large dog crates, x-pens
  • New or gently used/clean cat carriers
  • Soft dog treats for training
  • Canned cat and kitten food, any style or brand
  • Dish soap and dishwasher detergent
  • New or gently used/ clean strong dog collars
  • Large Rubbermaid type bins for storing stuffed Kongs
  • Essential oils for making dog enrichment toys

Joe Pautler

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-4-28-49-pmMy name is Joe Pautler and I have been a member of the BTC since 2005. I joined the club because I wanted a safe way to practice open water swimming before my first sprint triathlon, but I quickly found that the club had FAR more to offer than just that. I became very active in the club and established great friendships with the other members. I am sometimes asked why I devote so much time and effort to the BTC, and the answer is quite simple. I have benefited greatly from the previous and current members of the club and I want to make sure that the club continues to stay strong and provide those same benefits to the existing and future members for many years to come. The success of the BTC is due entirely to the members and volunteers that contribute to it. It is great that we have so many people that are eager to donate their time and services for the betterment of the club, and I just want to do my part. Here is a quick list of some of the ways that I have contributed to the BTC over the years:

  • Coordinated all north town weekly brick activities for 2006-2008 & 2011-2013 including the posting of weekly results and the creation and distribution of the year-end awards. I designed and implemented many of the practices that we continue to use today, such as the event formats, the laminated race numbers on race belts, the Members’ Memorial Time Trial, etc.
  • Served as BTC webmaster and IT Guru for 2005-2008 & 2011-present. I did a complete overhaul of the web site in 2005, and again in 2011, in order to update the information and create a site that is consistent with our club branding. I also take care of the domain name (including all of our email addresses and file repository), the oversight of our facebook group and our online club calendar, the care and maintenance of our membership database tools, the administration of all of our online registration forms and PayPal account, and the composition and sending of our monthly ‘email blasts.’
  • Served on the BTC board of directors 2011-present, and was the Vice President in 2012, 2013, & 2016. VP duties included scheduling the board meetings, producing the meeting agendas, and facilitating the meeting discussions.
  • Founded the BTC library and drafted the initial policies and procedures for it. I also designed/created various BTC promotional brochures, membership application forms, and workout sign-in sheets over the years.
  • Served on the membership committee 2013-present. Duties include answering inquiries from current and prospective members and assisting with the processing of online member registrations and renewals.
  • Represented and promoted the BTC at various events over the years, such as setting up and staffing information tables at health and wellness fairs, setting up and staffing the BTC tent at various races and events, etc.
  • Coordinated the design, purchase, and distribution of various club apparel orders (race kits, tech shirts, hats, etc).
  • Have written approximately 25 articles for the BTC newsletter & blog over the years, covering topics such as race reports, gear reviews, commuting via bicycle, etc.

Although I had to take a break from racing in 2014-2015, due to rupturing my ACL playing indoor lacrosse, my racing history includes approximately eighty 5k/8k/10k/15k running races, fifteen half-marathons, four full marathons, twenty-five Sprint and Olympic triathlons, ten 70.3 triathlons, and two IRONMAN 140.6 races (Wisconsin & Lake Placid).

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-4-28-12-pmWhen I’m not swimming, biking, and running, I work for the University at Buffalo as the Technical Program Manager for the data network. I am responsible for the technical oversight (planning, design, budgeting, implementation, etc) for all of the routers, switches, firewalls, etc, that provide Internet access and network connectivity to more than 120 buildings on the 3 UB campuses (Amherst, Main St, and down town). Our network provides services to approximately 30,000 students and 6,000 faculty and staff. I live in Depew NY, with my wife Paula and our guinea pigs Chip and Cadbury. Paula is also quite active in the BTC. She has completed many running races and also really enjoys riding her bike. She did her first (and probably last) triathlon at the Summer Sizzler in 2011, just so she could say that she did one. She is not a big fan of open water swimming. In 2013 she completed the Disney World Goofy Challenge (half marathon and full marathon on consecutive days) as well as the Disney Coast to Coast challenge (requiring a full or half marathon in both Disney World and Disney Land in the same calendar year).

Regardless of whether or not I am re-elected to the board, I look forward to continuing my involvement with the BTC, and helping out in whatever ways that I can to benefit our club, our sport, and our community.